Cal State Fullerton’s former President Milton Gordon died at the age of 81 on Tuesday.
Gordon started his presidency in 1990 and served the university for more than two decades. CSUF grew from 25,600 students when he began as president to more than 36,000 when he retired, with approximately 122,000 students graduating during that span.
In his first year of presidency, CSUF students were nearly 59 percent white. By the time he had announced his retirement, about 57 percent of students were minorities.
“Only the fourth African-American president in the largest system of higher education in the country, President Gordon, like his predecessor Jewel Plummer Cobb, shattered glass ceilings for thousands of people, like me, who aspired to follow in his footsteps,” said current President Mildred Garcia in a letter to faculty. “He was an incredible inspiration and mentor to me and one for the first people to reach out to me when I came to the CSU.”
Gordon oversaw CSUF’s largest construction period. More than $636 million worth of renovations were made to facilities including Performing Arts Center, Pollak Library, and the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics according to Garcia.
The Fullerton City Council meeting informed its attendees of his passing and ended the meeting with a moment of silence.
Gordon is survived by his wife Margaret Faulwell Gordon and sons Patrick, Michael and Vincent.
Gordon earned a doctorate in mathematics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, a Master of Arts in mathematics at the University of Detroit, a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and secondary education at Xavier University of Louisiana, and started his career as an elementary school teacher.
“Being president of this great university has been one of the most exciting and professionally satisfying experiences in my professional career,” Gordon said at his final convocation where he announced his retirement. “I love this university, take great pride in what we have accomplished together and know a bright future lies ahead for Cal State Fullerton.”